How Can Santa Come If I Have No Money?

Every year, there are financial troubles around the holidays and this year will be no different. Christmastime can be hard for families, especially with young children, if funds are tight. Here are some ideas submitted by our ThriftyFun community. If you have any tips, please post them here.


Frugal Homemade Gifts

Make Gifts From Things On Hand

Do you have any clean paper and some ribbon or string in the house? Maybe you can make some little books for your kids using those and your imagination. Tell them little stories about what you remember about their babyhood, use old magazines or newspapers to glue pics to the pages to help tell stories you can make up.

If you have some flannel, felt or even an old sweatshirt (stained old jammies, maybe?) you can make a flannel board. Cover a piece of cardboard with the flannel and get out one of their favorite books. Cut shapes that help them to tell the story with flannel pictures. They can apply the shapes to the board over and over again to tell themselves the story.

Do a search on the net to see how you can make a "Boo boo bunny" from an old washcloth or towel scrap. If you have any old socks maybe you can create some fun puppets for them to play with.


If you have any wire (hangers?), bend them into fun shaped bubble wands and make them some bubbles from what you have in the house. If you have the ingredients, find a playdough recipe and make them some play dough or "goo".

By Dawn

Printable Coloring Pages And Other Tips

Do a search for "printable coloring pages" and you will find some that you can print out and put in a binder or folder.

This site has flash cards you can print: has some ideas for homemade gifts, too.

By DL1052MCD

Editor's Note: A great resource for coloring pages and other printable are the cartoon network websites. PBS Kids, Nick Jr. and Disney all have some materials that are printable. This way you can print your kids favorite character.


Gift Certificates

How about making gift certificates for special occasions like "one day without chores, redeemable anytime" or an IOU for a particular day when you know you will have some extra cash. And call your local churches or toys for tots - that is what they are there for!

By Cavelady

Give Your Kids Your Time

When I was growing up, we never had much money and my mother always did her best to make the holidays special. Plan to play a board game together, watch a Christmas movie that you loved as a child or read a Christmas story together. Young children really want your attention more than anything.

By Jess

Places To Ask For Help

Check With Friends And Family

If you have a friend or relative who always gets the kids a little something for Christmas, talk to them before the holiday about your concerns and see if they would be "Santa" this year instead. Little kids don't keep track of who gives what usually. You might as well ask the people who love you for help before going to strangers.

By Molly

Look For Local Charities

Contact churches or civic groups in your area. Also social service agencies. In MO we have Community Action. Contact your local Catholic Church and get in touch with their St. Vincent DePaul representative. Good Luck and may your family be blessed. Remember, what your children need more than gifts are parents that love them and it seems like they already have that!

By TC in MO

Toy Drives

In my hometown we have a couple of non-profit groups, food banks and even local fire stations that do toy drives. You could call them and inquire whether they or other organizations they know are doing toy drives and see how your children could be included as recipients.

By bay area gal

Salvation Army

If you have an salvation army around you, you should be able to get a couple of things from there, but I do think there is a deadline for this!

Toys For Tots

The Marine Corp has the "Toys for Tots" drive. Perhaps you could look into this as well.

By Renee

Check Out Freecycle

You could also go to and sign up to join a group near where you live, and everything offered there is free. Some people even will drop it off for you. I am part of myself and am pleasantly surprised about the things people want to give away.

By Truleelee

Try All Local Organizations

There are a lot of organizations out there who would be glad to help you. Contact churches in your area. Late in the season, places have already picked who they are going to donate to. I was the chairperson for an organization for several years and I always held back a little for last minute situations. Contact some of the larger stores, some of them adopt families for the holidays. And don't give up if you are turned down. Also contact clubs like the VFW, Eagles and there are many more I'm sure. Good luck.

By Carol

If you have any more ideas, please post them below!

November 4, 20070 found this helpful

If a person is having financial probs, they may be on assistance from their state. The FIA agency here in MI has a gift giving big deal for the kids, but I think you need to be letting them know like maybe in Oct. or Nov---check with your local social services,welfare etc office and see. There is always a way to get things for the kids. Call local churches too and see if they have anything going on for disadvantaged kids at christmas time and if you know someone who is in this situation, call for them and get the info--alot of times a person can be so "loaded down" depression-wise, they just can't handle the searching aspect of this to help their kids. Hope this helps. Annie

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November 5, 20070 found this helpful

Depending on how old your children are, since you have

access to web, look in local craigslist/similar for small

animal cage and sterilize it with bleach, boiling water,

dishwasher, any way you can...You can collect grass and

let it dry for nesting straw, if you have access to a "bin"

type store, get seeds of all kinds and store in coffee cans,

use clean tuna or pet food can for feeders, and buy

a little mouse, or hamster, or better yet look on line

for freebies or post wanted.. A tiny pet gives children

something to love, and look at, and make play equipment out of toilet paper rolls, etc..During the

summer you can take your children out to collect wild

grass seeds for the pet and teach them about gathering seed. All the children can share that present, so it's one down and because you are using home made presents For the little creature, it takes on a

different meaning; the children are expressing the love they have and you aren't so overwhelmed by feeling

their neediness. This kind of present works up to

about 12 (depending on children).

Art- search out free art supplies on line and ask for

them...If you can find a copy from the library of

Drawing with Children, you will find your children can

take a great leap in drawing in a matter of hours..

Then they will draw for hours ever after. Trust me on

this one. A ream of paper can be found for about

$3.50 at most discount stores, that's 500 pages of

joy...The trick to drawing is in that book and once

you get it, you can draw. Anyone, everyone, I have

taught lots of children.

While looking for art stuff on web, try to track down

glue, and glitter and simple scissors. Let them cut

out Christmas pictures that come in the mail, and

glitter them up..It was the shine, sparkle and bright

colors that did it for me. Or add glitter to a full sheet

of Christmas advertisement and use it for wrapping

paper. You can find bright circulars in all stores also

right by the doors.

Dollar stores...? Or find a little body grooming package

with several items and give one to each child, age

appropriate of course.

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November 5, 20070 found this helpful

i get email from dover publications every friday. well last year i made all the kids coloring books from dover. they were great. i had printed off many pictures and then categorized them

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November 6, 20070 found this helpful

Thrift stores have terrific deals on used, but perfectly wonderful toys. And their clothes are great too, if you search for quality, "low mileage" items.

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November 6, 20070 found this helpful

How about home made food? A loaf of fresh bread, maybe some jelly or some homemade flavored bread. Alot of people don't have time to make "homemade" food and would appreciate it. A plate of cookies or candy would be wonderful!

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November 6, 20070 found this helpful

I am involved in a local Mom's Club and we have decided to do a "toy swap". Everyone will bring toys that their children have grown out of that are still clean/in good working order. Then everyone is free to choose other toys they want for their children. It helps to get the toyrooms cleaned out, and you get new free toys!

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November 9, 20070 found this helpful

I can identify. Seems like the closer to Christmas it gets--the broker we get! It's amazing,though, how far a $2.00 aquarium from a garage sale and some 30 cent goldfish from Walmart can go. Very cool for kids--especially if you leave the aquarium light on for a nightlight!

Something else of interest. If you or anyone in your family has any building experience--or just interest and the willingness to try:

Go to a new housing development. Find the Project Manager and explain that you would love to come up with some otherwise unused supplies (2x4 lumber, siding, shingles, plywood) that the builders are about to throw away, to build your children a playhouse for Christmas. Make sure you throw that part in! And by the way--be prepared to climb into a dumpster to retrieve it. Nails are cheap. Many folks have a hammer. And either the library, the internet, or your own imagination are great sources of inspiration.

A simple little playhouse is easy to build, can be done practically free if you don't mind hunting down your supplies and buying mistint paint for it. The kids will think you're brilliant!

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January 22, 20080 found this helpful

Shop at Dollar Tree once a month and put the small gifts away until Christmas.

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November 4, 20080 found this helpful

There's a lot of people struggling, I am also. Give lots of hugs and let them know how much you love them. I think that's more than money can buy.

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